Sheffield Council issues update over long-awaited repairs to riverside walk and cycle path damaged in 2019 floods

A riverside footpath and cycle route through Sheffield remains shut nearly a year-and-a-half since parts of it were swept away in the 2019 floods.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 12:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 12:34 pm

The Five Weirs Walk along the River Don was badly damaged in November 2019 and a large section is still closed, with frustration growing at the time taken for repairs to be carried out.

Sheffield Council has now issued an update after concerns were voiced by a volunteer for the cycling charity Sustrans that work has yet to begin 17 months later.

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The flood-damaged section of the Five Weirs Walk footpath and cycle route in Sheffield (pic: John Kirkwood/Sustrans)
The flood-damaged section of the Five Weirs Walk footpath and cycle route in Sheffield (pic: John Kirkwood/Sustrans)

Tom Finnegan-Smith, the council’s head of strategic transport and infrastructure, said: “There is currently a closure between Attercliffe Road and East Coast Road on the Five Weirs Walk as a result of damage to the walkway.

"Work in rebuilding and repairing this section is not straightforward. Our aim is to provide adequate flood protection so it lasts long-term.

“Whilst we know the repair work is needed, this area is not classed as a formal highway so there have been delays in identifying the appropriate funding to carry out the necessary works.

"We’re working to find a solution to this as quickly as possible but prioritising Covid-19 related projects and the consistent funding pressures faced by the council have meant that we have not been able to do this as quickly as we would have liked to. We will provide an update in due course.”

The five-mile path between Sheffield city centre and Meadowhall forms part of the National Cycle Network in Sheffield, which is maintained by Sustrans.

It is linked with the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal towpath to form an eight-mile circular walk known as the Blue Loop, and it also forms a branch of the Trans Pennine Trail.

John Kirkwood, who is a volunteer ranger for the charity Sustrans, said he is concerned that the ‘valuable resource is being wasted’.

“Currently users have a choice of diversion: a series of grubby, industrial back streets, to by-pass the damaged section, or the Active Travel Lanes on Attercliffe, which offer a faster route for utility cyclists but bypass two of the open sections of the Walk,” he said.

"Neither of these routes offer the experience of history and nature along the river which was the intention of the trail builders.

“Given Sheffield’s claim to be the ‘Outdoor City’, its emphasis on active travel, and the highlighting of the Walk by national bodies such as Ramblers, the repair and re-opening of this section should be a matter of priority.”

According to Mr Kirkwood, it’s not just walkers and cyclists who are keen to see the repairs made.

He claims the company Thessco Limited, which had been ‘very cooperative’, was concerned that further flooding could undermine support for a building used to store precious metals.

He also said that the council’s contractor Amey had responded to an enquiry from Sustrans saying that it is waiting for the Environment Agency to grant a licence for it to undertake investigatory works, which he believes may be the current ‘sticking point’.